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HER Ref:MLE14115
Parish:Swithland, Charnwood, Leicestershire
Grid Reference:SK 554 128
Map:Coming soon

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Early Medieval to Modern - 1201 AD to 2050 AD)


The west tower is C13th below, Perpendicular above. The church has C13th arcades. The first evidence for a church is in a charter of 1277.

Additional Information

Listed building description:
Church of C13 and later. Granite and slate rubble stone with Swithland slate roof. West tower of 3 stages, nave, north porch, south aisle with east porch, and chancel.
Lower part of tower C13, upper Perpendicular with 2 clasping buttresses, small C19 west door, original 1-light above, several slits, 4 restored 2-light bell openings and restored crocketted pinnacles and battlements. 2 storey C19 stair turret on south side.
Nave has C19 north porch and C13 arcades originally similar, but north, now blocked, was heightened later in century. North-west arch remains similar to south arcade. Now blocked, it leads to north porch. Arcades of 4 bays, south has circular piers and abaci supporting double chamfered arches. 3 bull's-eye windows above. 1/2 bull's-eye remains abutting first of higher north arcade blocked arches. These similar to south. Upper part of nave C16/C17 timber framing in 4 bays. Wall pieces and curved braces from renewed stone corbels, support collar and cranked tie beam trusses with lower angle struts. Curved wind braces to single purlins. Heavily restored chancel. Arch double chamfered, one dying into corbels. Two C19 flat-headed 2-lights either side, with C19 east window of Geometric type tracery. Stained glass of 1867. Restored, partly renewed, single purlin roof with wall pieces and curved braces supporting collar beams, thence king struts. Wrought iron altar rail. South aisle built as Danvers Chapel in 1727. 4 bay double-purlin king post tie-beam truss roof with angle struts to purlins (upper from king post). Date on east tie beam. C19 east porch. Three C19 south windows of Geometric type tracery. Stained glass of 1864 (Heygate Memorial) in south-south-west, otherwise 2 heraldic glass lunettes, one dated 1849. One C18 half-round window remains with west window blocked. 6 hatchments and helmet, sword and 2 metal gauntlets. C17 and C18 slate and brass monuments and pedigree of Danvers-Butler family, including outstanding example of mid C18 to children to Sir John Danvers, 'a tour de force of the slate workers' (Pevsner). Mid C15 brass; organ originally by John Snetzler of London, 1765, with Gothic pinnacled front; C18 white marble font; remains of possibly C17 carving in some pew backs. On north wall, C18 wall monument and two C19 Curvilinear type tracery windows. Triple chamfered west arch with small round arched 1-light above and C19 stained glass in small west window.

First evidence for a church is a charter of 1277. Earliest rectory existed in 1650. A previous rectory to the west of the church was built in the C18th and demolished in 1918. The new rectory is now a private house. Bells date from 1762, provided by John Danvers. Organ dates from 1765, built by John Snetzler. Restored in 1936 and 1980s. In the nave there is a C15th memorial brass of Agnes Scott, with inscription. The earliest register is from 1676. (Swithland St Leonard, History Notes)

The church was photographed as part of Project Gargoyle in 2010 and 2013. Grotesque heads on interior hood stops, probably C13th but maybe C15th. Also stylised beast heads in springers of north arcade, probably C13th. Three non-figurative roof bosses (one in chancel and two in south aisle) of unknown age. Numerous human heads - males mostly with crowns - on exterior label stops, probably C19th restorations.

<1> Pevsner N, 1984, The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland, p401-2 (Bibliographic reference). SLE4.

W tower of the C13 below, Perp above. S aisle built by Sir John Danvers in 1727 (see the date on the E wall). Only one semicircular window and a blocked doorway in the aisle and a large blocked W window bear witness to this work. The rest was gothicised in the C19 and an E porch added. The Venetian E window has gone. Inside, the arcades both date from the C13. Low S arcade of circular piers with circular abaci, the central capital with foliage crockets. On the S side of the nave three vesica-shaped contemporary clerestory windows. The (blocked) N arcade (also with circular piers and abaci) is an earlier arcade heightened: the W bay has not been re-used. Double-chamfered arches throughout. The upper part of the nave is timber-framed. - ORGAN inscribed John Snetzler 1765, - MONUMENTS. Brass to Agnes Scott, mid C15, a 3ft figure. - Spectacular hanging wall-monument of slate with a small brass inscription in the middle. To five children of Sir John Danvers, mid C18. Rococo surroudn with cherubs' heads and a skull. The top an open pediment. A tour de force of the slate workers. - Several other similar memorials in the Danvers aisle, and a family pedigree of brass. - In the churchyard, a monument to Sir John Danvers d. 1753; or rather half inside, half outside the churchyard, so as to make it possible for Sir John's dog to be buried with him. Slate tomb-chest with the most splendidly scrolly inscription and two reliefs, one of the arts of peace (ploughing and building), the other of the arts of war (a foreign seaport with a ship and a fortress against a background of mountains). By John Hind, 1745. - In the churchyard also a series of C17 slate monuments dating from 1673 onwards. They are some of the earliest preserved (cf. Thurcaston). Swithland was the home of the slate-engraving craft. The good Leicestershire slate pits were here, and the tombstone trade flourished in the C18 and C19.

<2> Nichols J, The History and Antiquities of Leicestershire, Vol 3 pt 2 (1804), p1047 (Bibliographic reference). SLE7.

Nichols says that the church was given by Hugh de Grentemesnil to the Abbey of St Ebrulph in Normandy.

<3> Chapman, S, 1999, An archaeological control and supervision of groundworks at St Leonard's Church, Swithland, Leicestershire (Unpublished document). SLE2713.

In 1999 a watching brief was carried out on groundworks for an extension to St Leonard's Church, Swithland. No significant archaeological deposits were identified, though the footings of the south aisle were exposed and recorded. Sixteen human burials were disturbed in the course of this work, some of which were found to pre-date the 1727 extension to the south aisle. By the request of the incumbent all human remains disturbed were aged and sexed and their locations recorded, to facilitate a more meaningful reburial at a later date.


<1>Bibliographic reference: Pevsner N. 1984. The Buildings of England Leicestershire and Rutland. p401-2.
<2>Bibliographic reference: Nichols J. The History and Antiquities of Leicestershire. Vol 3 pt 2 (1804), p1047.
<3>Unpublished document: Chapman, S. 1999. An archaeological control and supervision of groundworks at St Leonard's Church, Swithland, Leicestershire.

Associated Finds

    None recorded


  • Listed Building (II*) 1177875: CHURCH OF ST LEONARD
  • Conservation Area: Swithland